Whether reciting ballads by firelight or gorging on Netflix by screen light, human beings have always loved stories. Whether you want escapism, wisdom, or education, a good story will wrap you in its narrative and lead you to consider all the big existential questions, often through the simplest tale. And what could be more poignant than a fairy tale? Simple, easy and full of insight, they encapsulate the heart of any storytelling. At least that’s what Rehannah Mian thought when she launched her project. magic story book – the podcast bringing traditional fairy tales to modern audiences.
In order to introduce children to fairy tales, Mian has created Magical Storybook after working as a story presenter for Notts TV. “I’ve worked in television, so I’ve always been interested in storytelling and telling stories to make the world a better place,” Mian says. “Then I left television to work with children, and that’s when I got the idea for the podcast.” First volunteering in a boy scout group, Rehannah realized that many children had never heard of traditional fairy tales. “Storytelling was a huge part of my life. I used to spend all weekends reading comics, listening to stories, or making them up in the bedroom with my sister. children didn’t have the same experiences as me, I started doing scouting sessions where I introduced old traditional fairy tales.
Rehannah was pleasantly surprised by the reaction. “I was worried because the stories are darker than the stories they might have known, but the kids loved them and it inspired them. They thrived on those stories. So much so, in fact, that Rehannah was motivated to start her own business, “throwing children’s parties, all based on these original fairy tales. It was then, during a chance encounter at a company training day, that Rehannah heard about podcasting for the first time and, spurred on by the course host, she decided to give it a shot.
I ask Rehannah why she thinks the podcast resonates with children, especially when the details of traditional fairy tales can be so gory, in stark contrast to contemporary children’s media like Pixar, Disney or Dreamworks. “I think kids like something a little more horror-based,” she replies. “Like you say, let’s face it, the original stories aren’t very great. The premise is usually around child abuse of some description. Like Hansel and Gretel is to throw your children in the woods, Cinderella is a girl who is a slave. But I think that’s what makes them interesting, they’re all based on a character who is hurting in some way and they reflect real life. There are children who go through these things: poverty, starvation, difficult relationships, and even if the details are not the same, everyone can find a character to connect with if they are going through a difficult time.
That’s what makes them interesting, they’re all based on a character who is suffering in some way and they reflect real life
In this regard, fairy tales help the child listener to process some difficult emotions, often ones they would otherwise not have the setting to discuss. “Also witches, wizards, murders. It’s fascinating for children! Plus, these are really well-told stories. On top of that, Rehannah tells me the podcast has proven to be a great educational tool. Being online, his stories have the reach to reach the world. “I realized that many children around the world used the podcast to learn how to read and write because I speak clearly and slowly. So I started transcribing the story into e-books to read for free. They learn how words are pronounced and sound like.
Along with bringing old stories back to the present, Rehannah has also started working on a side project. “Going back to my historical background, my initial love was actually medieval Nottingham history, then I became interested in medieval European history, then I started making up stories about medieval characters. discovered that many ethnic minorities (as we would call them) were wiped out of history when it was whitewashed in the 1500s. I knew I wanted to write a children’s story about them.
“One such character was an African knight called Sir Morein whom I found in King Arthur folklore, described as the greatest, strongest and bravest of King Arthur’s knights. I began to write this story called Mia and the Curse of Camelot, bringing in all those forgotten characters. It’s the story of a mixed-race girl who travels back in time to visit Camelot, only to find that they’ve all been cursed, and of course, it’s up to her to break that curse. Mian then uploaded each chapter to the podcast. “All of a sudden, people were asking for more. Then I made a book of it afterwards. Now I have this novel that I send whenever someone wants one.
I ask for final words on the podcast and on Mia and the Curse of Camelot. “Children’s stories have such an impact, they can build resilience, they can make them feel less alone, they are powerful,” she says. “That’s why it was so important for me to write this book. If you’re always reading about characters that don’t look like you, then you have a little less connection. So we need all these stories. We need black stories, Pakistani heroes, Saudi women heroines. And they existed in history, but they were written. How many African knights do you see saving the day? Hope this inspires people to dig deeper into this story. And the next time someone writes about King Arthur, maybe they’ll include it.
You can listen to Magical Storybook on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or any other podcast hosting platform